20 September 1999

I hate my thrift!

[Originally posted to rec.games.video.classic. "Thrift" is slang for a thrift store--a store usually run by a charity that sells used items donated to them.]

I hate one of my local thrifts. They have insane prices, but I have to keep going back because they tend to get in more of what I'm looking for. (Unfortunately, it's so dry here that even they don't get in much in the way of video games.) Here's an exchange I had with the cashier today:

I put on the counter a C-64 magazine and paperback. The price sign by the register says $0.25 & $0.50 for paperbacks, but nothing about magazines.
"A dollar? For a magazine?!?" I ask. I had been expecting 15 to 25 cents.
"For a computer magazine," she says as if this makes perfect sense.
"But it's over ten years old!" (It was from 1986.)
"It's an antique then, isn't it?" she says incredulously.
"Then you can keep it," I say in a bit of a huff.
"Be happy to," she responds icily. I paid my quarter for the book and left.

The cashiers at this store get to set the prices. Nothing is marked, although there is aforementioned sign giving prices of the more common items. They apparently have some unwritten code for pricing some items. (Like all video game cartridges, from 2600 to Genesis, are $3.) This is the same lady that priced an in-the-box pong-style system at $10 for me last week. I passed on that, too, and it was still there today.

Maybe I'm showing up on different days, but it seems to me they get a cashier who works for a few weeks and then disappears. (And for some reason they're all older women.) This lady has been there before. At least the previous cashier was pleasant, even if she was equally insane on pricing. The store is run by a local rescue mission, and I'm sure they'd make more money if they sold some of their items for less.

ObCVG: Picked up a NES Game Genie for $0.50 at a yard sale this weekend. Haven't tested it yet.

["ObCVG" stands for "obligatory classic video games" content. The newsgroup was supposed to be for discussing classic video games, which was not the main topic of my post. So I added a teeny bit about them to make it on topic.

I was much later told at another thrift store that some other thrifts in town priced items based on how the purchaser was dressed. I typically did my shopping on my lunch hour, so this is probably what bit me because I was wearing "business casual" dress--essentially slacks and a collared shirt. Fancy clothes for someone buying stuff at a thrift store. — 5 June 2009]

18 September 1999

Catching Up With Buckner and Garcia (originally for Classic Gamer Magazine)

[Classic Gamer Magazine introduction. This article originally appeared in CGM #2 (winter 1999–2000). This is the article as I submitted it and may not exactly match what was published.]

"I've got a pocket full of quarters and I'm headed to the arcade."

Do those words sound familiar? If you're a child of the '80s, they should. They're the opening of Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia's hit song, "Pac-Man Fever," from the album of the same name. The "Pac-Man Fever" single went platinum (about 1,700,000 copies sold), while the album went gold (roughly 900,000 sold). Both were released in early 1982 and quickly rose up the charts. The single peaked at #9 on the Billboard chart and #3 on the Record World chart. Not bad for two radio jingle writers in Atlanta who wrote the song in about an hour.

Now, 17 years later, Buckner and Garcia have re-recorded and re-released the album on compact disc. Shortly after the re-release, Classic Gamer Magazine got Buckner and Garcia to take a little time for an exclusive e-mail interview.

The CD

Classic Gamer Magazine: Let's start with the most obvious question: Why re-release Pac-Man Fever on CD 17 years after the original album's release?

Buckner & Garcia: The demand and desire we have been receiving showed us a lot of people wanted a CD version.

CGM: This project seemed to be on-again/off-again for over a year. What finally prompted you to actually do it?

B&G: It took awhile to get all our ducks in a row to make the release possible.

CGM: Did you have to renegotiate certain rights with the arcade manufacturers of each game?

B&G: We still have and maintain all the rights we had on the 1982 release.

CGM: What was involved in re-recording the songs? Did you still have your lyric and music sheets from when you originally recorded the album?

B&G: The original lyric sheets and music were gone, so we went on memory and the lyrics [Lee Seitz] had printed on [his] website.

The Record

CGM: Who sang what on both the album and CD?

Garcia: The vocals are done by me.

CGM: I know you were going to do a tour in Europe when the album was released there? Did it actually happen? Did you do any touring in North America?

B&G: There was never a European tour, but we did a lot of touring for promotion in the U.S.

CGM: In an interview in Video Games magazine, you said a man named Edgel Groves had recorded a country and western version of Pac-Man Fever. Did it ever see commercial release?

B&G: The country version of the song was never released.

CGM: Besides singing "Puck-Man" instead of "Pac-Man," were there any other differences in the Japanese version of Pac-Man Fever ?

B&G: "Puc-Man" was the only change in the version for Japan.

CGM: I've seen a reference to a German version of Pac-Man Fever (called Pac-Man Feiber ) sung by Gerald Mann. Did you or anyone else do any other versions in different languages?

Garcia: I have not heard about the German or any other different language versions.

Back to Today

CGM: So just what have you been up to since Pac-Man Fever slid off the charts?

B&G: We still are writing, recording, and producing music and advertising jingles.

CGM: What were your favorite video games in the '80s? Do you still play video games? (If so, which ones?)

Garcia: [My] favorite game was, is, and always will be Pac-Man.

You can order your own copy of the Pac-Man Fever CD for $15.99 plus $3.50 shipping and handling at www.bucknergarcia.com. [OFFER NO LONGER VALID.]

Postscript (June 2013)

As you may have guessed, the title is a bit misleading. This was not an interview with Buckner and Garcia, but just Gary Garcia. How it came about is probably a blog post in itself, but essentially their recording engineer turned to me for some minor help while they were re-recording it because I had one of the few Web pages dedicated to the album at the time. You can find a bit more at my Pac-Man Fever Forever pages.

I was a bit disappointed in the final result of the interview due to Mr. Garcia's curt answers. But in his defense, it was an e-mail interview and I don't know how his typing skills were. Perhaps I should have done it on the phone. Also, I'd hoped to get some answers from Jerry Buckner as well, but he didn't respond.

If you didn't know, I'm a bit of a Pac-Man Fever aficionado, so several of these questions might have been a bit obscure, but after reading the vintage interview in Video Games, they were what I was wondering about. I suspect the county version of "Pac-Man Fever" is what the duo later released as "Pac-Man Fever Unplugged." I've forgotten whether that was released before or after I asked the question about it.